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Lions Roar : July 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2013 57 F LESH. SEX. DESIRE. It’s not the only holy trinity, but it’s my favorite one, Buddhist noble truths notwithstanding. All Buddhist schools agree on the second noble truth—that we suffer because we desire. I know it. There is no way to wiggle out of it. Trust me, I’ve tried. Changing the vocabulary to “attachment” does not work at all. Desire is all about getting attached, clinging like an octopus with suckers (but without the octopus’s elegance) to what we want, be it a beautiful fellow human or a serene state of being. De sideris, the Latin root of the word “desire,” is wonderfully instructive. In a round- about way, it provides a Buddhist comment on the impossibility of getting what we want, of ever being completely satisfied, sexually or otherwise. The very meaning of the word also explains why desire is so compelling and magical, why it will always reach us, somehow, from another world, another life. De sideris means “of the stars.” We think of the stars as far away, and of the light that comes to us from them as dead. Yet the sun is our closest star; we cannot live without it. Desire is a large, hot fact of life. Everyone, Buddhistically inclined or not, has to find a way to handle it, to enjoy the light without going blind or burning to a crisp. I was raised with the Bible, but also, secretly, as a little pagan. So when I think of human flesh, my flesh, my lover’s body, the Earth follows close behind. Adam came from adamah, the Hebrew word for “the dust of the earth.” When I think of some of the best sexual experiences I have ever had, I remember how thin the walls were, or nonexistent, or how the windows were open and the land or water were there, close by, present, part of the act. COURTESYGAGOSIANGALLERY.PHOTOBYROBERTMCKEEVER/THEBRIDGEMANARTLIBRARYINTERNATIONAL Flesh Sex Desire KAREN CONNELLY feels the heat